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Rescued Animal of the Month: October 2015:

Each month we will feature a rescued animal success story.

Belle and LaToya's Story:

Advocating for the animals isn't something I do, it is who I am.

On October 7, 2008 we adopted two Japanese Chins (Belle and LaToya) from NASAP. We were told they were surrendered by a 'breeder'. We quickly learned that our girls were the victims of a puppy mill or backyard breeder as we call it here.

A puppy mill is a breeding operation, usually on a farm, where income is placed at a higher importance than the quality of life and health of the dogs. The puppies are then sold to local pet stores, at flea markets, via on-line advertisements or through the local buy and sell swap pages for large amounts of money. Many people think that by buying dog from a backyard breeder they are saving lives, when in reality, it just perpetuates a continued demand for the breeder to continue. Puppy millers have no significant interest in the health histories of their breeding stock. A backyard breeder has no regard for quality of life, health or well being of the dogs. All they care about is that they are able to breed. More puppies = more money. Simple.

Our girls came to us with seriously untreated medical conditions (particularly advanced dental disease), chronic ear infections, facial scars and grooming neglect. We have a suspicion that Latoya (Toya) was debarked as in the five years she was with us, we never heard her bark, not once. When she played she would make a squealing, raspy sound. Toya had a long scar on her upper lip and had to have all of her blackened rotting teeth removed. I could only imagine the horror she endured in the first five years of her life. For me, there were some things I was better off not knowing.

Toya and Belle were both diagnosed with a heart murmur and subsequent heart disease. The girls have crossed the Rainbow Bridge but what was amazing to me is that despite their history, they were willing to love and trust.Toya adapted easier than Belle but both girls loved to play and Toya was the cuddler, while Belle disliked being held. Belle would venture outside the front door, do her business, then scurry inside. Walking to the end of the block was a huge accomplishment.

5 long years later, we tried a therapy collar made especially for Belle using rose and clear quartz. After one week of wearing her collar, she ventured to the end of the street. A few weeks later she crossed the street and one day, she happily trotted alongside her brother Buttons and walked around the lake by our home. The last two years of Belle's life were filled with adventure and wonder. She played, she explored her world, she laughed, she allowed us to hold her (albeit briefly).

To watch this "broken" dog blossom into a dog that explored her world was something I will never forget. Everyone tells us we saved them, but in essence, they saved us.

- Lillian Courtney, President/Founder, Berkeley's Place Foundation

March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 Aug 2015 Sept 2015 Oct 2015